Commission finds 1998 garda shooting of Ronan MacLochlainn in Wicklow was justified

Commission finds 1998 garda shooting of Ronan MacLochlainn in Wicklow was justified
The Commission was established after a case was taken by Mr MacLochlainn's partner, Gráinne Nic Gibb, pictured here in 1998 holding a photo of her and Ronan. Photo: Joey Cleary/RollingNews.ie.

The final report from the MacLochlainn Commission of Investigation into the fatal shooting of Ronan MacLochlainn by members of An Garda Síochána has found that the shooting was justified.

However, the report found that there were "serious deficiencies" in the garda investigation into the incident, as well as in relation to record keeping, the disclosure of information, and other matters.

Mr MacLochlainn was killed during an attempted armed robbery of a Securicor van in Ashford, Co Wicklow in May 1998.

The Commission was established in August 2014 to undertake an investigation into the shooting of Mr MacLochlainn by members of the gardaí.

The report, which was published today by the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, notes several developments since the shooting 20 years ago, the establishment of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), which would be responsible for investigating a similar incident if it were to happen today.

Mary Rose Gearty, SC, was the Sole Member of the Commission which was established after a case was taken by Mr MacLochlainn's partner, Gráinne Nic Gibb, at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

She had alleged that Ireland had breached the European Convention of Human Rights in respect of the investigation into his death. The Commission of Investigation was established in settlement and striking out of that application, with the ECtHR agreeing this was an appropriate method by which to vindicate the rights of the family and of the public.

In a summary of the report, it concluded that An Garda Síochána should have "adopted and practised more rigorous training for its senior management".

"This would have encouraged recognition by its members of the need for accountability and real independence in an investigation," the report says, in addition to possibly prompting better records and systems being maintained, which "ensured that full and appropriate disclosure was made by the organisation and thereby minimised the potential for theories of wrongdoing to fester".

"These measures could have saved the family of Mr MacLochlainn the long ordeal of seeking answers that this process became," the report said.

It would also have prevented civilian witnesses and members of the gardai from enduring a distressing investigation long after the events had occurred, it found.

Speaking today following the publication of the report, Minister Flanagan said: “I am pleased to today publish the full and final report of the MacLochlainn Commission of Investigation and am grateful to the sole member, Mary Rose Gearty SC, for the comprehensive report produced.

We must acknowledge all those who have been affected by these events – the partner, family and friends of Mr MacLochlainn, as well as the Garda members involved and the members of the public who witnessed these events.

"I hope that the full investigation carried out by the Commission and its clear findings will bring a degree of closure to all concerned,” he said.

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